Cosplay: Mugen (in process)
Anime North 2007 is less than four weeks away and I’m very close to completing my costume. This year, I’m going as Mugen (pictured right) the breakdance-fighting, wise-ass, ex-pirate from Shinichiro Watanabe‘s fabulous 2004 anime Samurai Champloo.
I choose this character for two reasons: I really like him and his outfit is simple. In cosplay terms, however, simple is relative.
There was very little I could just buy as is for this costume. In fact, the only item that hasn’t been adapted in some way are the geta sandals. These I ordered online from Japan and are huge and easy to wear and I love them. They will add a touch of authenticity lost when cosplayers doing this character wear regular thong sandals.
The next two items I was able to purchase but required a bit of reworking. The earrings were easy – just had to buy the elements at a bead shop and put them together. The sword was a lot more time intensive.
As far as I can tell, the character designers took a traditional Chinese Tai Chi sword and added the hilt of a sai (which is Okinawan in origin, just like Mugen). So I decided to do the same thing. I bought a replica sword in Chinatown and took it apart, separating the hilt from the blade, which came apart into its constituent pommel, grip and guard parts. I then took a plastic sai and sliced off just the curvy guard, primed and painted it gold. That part slid perfectly onto my replica sword. I then took the wooden grip (which was dark brown), sanded it down, primed and painted it white with the gold design. Miraculously, the whole thing fit back together, and looks damn fine. My only regret is that the hilt is so short (Mugen’s sword has a grip at least twice as long).
That left the costume itself: shorts, shirt, jacket and sword sash. You can’t buy this costume (at least not in Canada) so it had to be made from scratch. Sadly, the last time I ever sowed anything was a denim tool-belt I made for my dad in grade 8. And that was with A LOT of help from my home economics teacher. So I – a 35 year old man – took what little dignity I have, tucked it into my back pocket and called my mom.
Laugh all you want, but my mom is a trained seamstress and is very good at making clothes. In fact, she was especially excited about this costume because there is no pattern and she’d have to make it up. And incredibly, in all our shopping and sewing sessions, she only once asked me about my motives. When I explained I’d be doing a piece for CBC Radio about cosplay, she took that as a legitimate reason for her grown son to be playing dress up.
I also decided I wasn’t just going to hand over the design and come back a few weeks later for the finished product. I have participated as much as I can, learning a lot about dressmaking in the process. The image at the top of this post, for instance, was one my mom’s brilliant ideas on how to make the sash. She had me trace it out on paper, draw on the zig zag pattern, then number and cut out the triangles. She will then use these paper triangles as a guide to build the sash.
There’s only a few hems left to sew and in a couple of weeks I’ll be posting shots of the full costume…
The costume is now complete – check it out!